I’m publishing this post a lot later than I had hoped to (next post will explain why) but I still believe in its pertinence.
How do you describe a rainbow to a blind person?
How do you explain the dis-ease that is a serial disrespector of colour, creed or cash?
With great difficulty, if at all. A disease that causes those in the public eye like Robin Williams and those less known, like my friends’ parent to ‘top themselves.’
For many the first emotion was shock. Not for me. It was a mix of envy/admiration for being able to state ‘world I’ve had enough, I’m outta here’ instead of pleading ‘stop the world, I want to get off’.
It’s this implied two fingers at everything and everyone that gives suicide the label as ‘a most selfish act’. After all, it’s a crime punishable by jail time in India and Singapore and a sin punishable by eternal hell in the Abrahamic faiths (Judaism, Christianity and Islam).
Yet for the suicider life may have become death measured in breaths, a never-ending torture session. Self-dissolution may be perceived as a final generous gesture to loved ones, ridding the world of their burdened and burdensome existence. Don’t we put down animals to end their misery?
Despite bandying around diagnoses like clinical depression and bipolar disorder, clinicians still understand very little about how the brain functions. And the pills and potions prescribed aren’t that far removed from the miracle cures of the Victorian Era: cocaine for toothache, tobacco for bronchitis and morphine for malaria.
Talking therapies are increasingly advocated as a deterrent to the act of self-termination. There is a feeling that in coming together and seeking a Higher Self, we can affirm each other. So like the ladies in Ntozoake Shange’s play, for coloured girls who have considered suicide/ when the rainbow is enuf, we can all move to the end of our rainbows.
While some seek a Higher Power and are comforted and deterred by the call to ‘come follow me, and I’ll give you rest.’ However, for many these are empty words of a deluded rebel or misunderstood prophet.
But what becomes of the broken-hearted who never have answers, no matter how detailed the suicide note?
And what of the rest of us? For suicide is a growing epidemic, positively correlated with rising prosperity. The stark truth is that even if we don’t know someone who has committed suicide, we’ll know of someone. I think it is a response to suffering and suffering is a way of life. Even the Dharmic (Hinduism, Jainism and Buddhism) religions agree with the monotheistics on this.
So while some of us will reclaim our rainbows after the storm, for many of us, the storm is unrelenting and eventually becomes untenable.
Do you reclaim the rainbow after the storm?